New report calls for digital tech to be developed and regulated in ways that maximise benefits for young users

The US National Scientific Council on Adolescence recommended in its report titled Engaging, Safe, and Evidence-Based: What Science Tells Us About How to Promote Positive Development and Decrease Risk in Online Spaces that digital technology is designed and regulated in ways that maximise positive, equitable benefits for all young adolescents and limit potential harm. Digital technology changes for young users should be supported by data from developmental research and consistent with already accepted standards.

The research also advocates for better-educating kids, parents, product designers, teachers, legislators, and other stakeholders about the advantages and disadvantages of using digital technology. More evidence-based approaches will make it possible to ensure that early adolescent use of digital technology promotes wellbeing and constructive development while minimising exposure to harm.

Four evidence-based recommendations are advanced by the report:

  1. Digital technology should promote healthy development and wellness.
  2. Digital technology should be designed and used in a way that is safe for early adolescents.
  3. The design and evaluation of digital technology used by young adolescents should take into account the best available research and advance it. Any digital technology platforms that may pose real health risks to young adolescents should be subjected to independent evaluation by experts in developmental science, mental health, and other relevant fields.
  4. All early adolescents should have consistent access to the level of digital connectivity and devices needed to participate fully in their education and learning.